The Word: Frankly, I’m Puzzled By Jeffrey G. Roberts (satire)

Writers seldom write the things they think. They simply write the things they think other folks think they think. So this is my two cents; one man’s opinion – I think.

Being a writer, I’ve noticed a popular sentiment, usually put forth by editors & publishers (interestingly enough, not so much by writers) that being published in a non-paying magazine is still a plus for your career – even if there is no remuneration. How can I put this succinctly: no, it isn’t. That’s like saying it’s an honor to be nominated for the Pulitzer Prize; or to come in 2ndplace at the Indy 500. Again: no, it isn’t. It’s an honor to win the Pulitzer Prize, and an honor to come in 1st place at the Indy 500.

But you’d get your name in front of readers, your work finally published, some would say. Really? Traditionally, publications that are so small as to be non-paying (or “token”) are also just getting by, by the skin of their teeth. Most online magazines go under at an alarming rate. Why? Because they can’t afford to produce their next issue, let alone pay writers. And those that offer a paltry $5.00, in my opinion, are an insult, and a slap in the face to any writer who may have slaved for months or years to produce his story or article; to be rewarded only enough for a Big Mac? I don’t want your charity! But your work would finally be seen; it would be in the public’s eye, they say. What part of the above didn’t you understand? Publications that are so small that they’re produced out of a broom closet are virtual unknowns. Tell me again why it would be a feather in my professional cap to be published in Pancreas Monthly; circulation, 58; which just happens to be the population of Monkey Testicle, Wyoming, where it’s published? Oh, I almost forgot: a geriatric squirrel and a Prairie dog named Skippy also like to read it.

Then again – maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it is an honor just to be published! So next time you finally get published in Turd Review, or squeal with delight because your article “I Married A Soap Dish” was bought by Cannibal Times – take the issue in question, and proudly show it to your landlord when the rent is due. Or the grocer, when Mother Hubbard’s cupboard is bare. Look at the bright side: maybe the paper just might have some nutritional value!

After all, it’s an honor just to be published. Right? Even if Skippy the Prairie dog is illiterate.

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